March 3, 2023

From neglected cow paddock

From neglected cow paddock to stunning contemporary garden, Cape Otway Farm opens to the public for the first time.

Open Gardens Victoria will open Cape Otway Farm, a stunning modern take on the traditional rural garden, for the first time on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 March.

When purchased nearly 16 years ago by Olivia Tipler and Daryl Pelchen, the property was mostly windswept farmland used for cattle grazing, with only three or four established trees. One of the trees, a majestic old river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), played an integral role
in the site selection of the house.

“The tree chose the location of the home,” says owner and architect Daryl Pelchen, who designed the family’s contemporary farmhouse to ensure it included a view of the gum tree.

One of the first garden projects for Olivia and Daryl was the planting of the avenue of lemonscented gums along the driveway. Following this, a masterplan for the landscape was developed, determining the placement of the Norfolk Island pines, an orchard, the bosque of plane trees, and the oaks on the west side of the house. 20,000 indigenous trees and shrubs were also planted as windbreaks, providing a much-needed sense of seclusion to the wide open spaces of the farm. Keeping it local, many of the windbreak trees were propagated on Olivia’s parent’s
farm in the Otways.

Landscape architect Stephen Read was engaged seven years ago to complete the garden and create a human-scale environment around the home for the family to enjoy and relax. Stephen’s first task was to finish off the productive gardens, enclosing the orchard with a fence and bay tree hedge to protect it from the hot northerly winds. The vegetable garden was then completed, and a pollination garden was planted along the eastern edge of the vegetable patch.

“The obvious challenge for the garden is the wind; however, reliable irrigation water was also a challenge while the early parts of the garden were established."

Making use of available water was one of the driving factors for establishing the garden in stages, ensuring one section of the garden was drought-resistant before moving on to the next,” says Stephen.

More details on the Cape Otway Farm open days can be found here.

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